Among those awarded Oscars at the 93rd annual Academy Awards was prolific movie mogul Tyler Perry. However, instead of receiving recognition for any of his productions, the multitalented entrepreneur was honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. “Tyler’s cultural influence extends far beyond his work as a filmmaker,” Academy President David Rubin said of its Board of Governors’ decision. “He has quietly and steadily focused on humanitarian and social justice causes from the beginning of his career, caring for people who are most often ignored.”
As he accepted his award, Perry continued to demonstrate his compassionate nature. The respected filmmaker addressed both humanitarian and social issues in his acceptance speech—imparting some inspiring words of wisdom that he learned from his mother, encouraging all listening to “refuse hate” and “meet in the middle.” In his powerful speech, Perry said, “In this time, with all of the internet and social media and algorithms that want us to think a certain way. The 24-hour news cycle. It’s my hope that we teach our kids, refuse hate. Don’t hate anybody. “I refuse to hate someone because they’re Mexican or because they are black or white. Or LGBTQ. I refuse to hate someone because they’re a police officer or because they’re Asian. I would hope we would refuse hit hate. And I want to take this humanitarian award and dedicate it to anyone who wants to stand in the middle. Because that’s where healing, where conversation, where change happens. It happens in the middle. Anyone who wants to meet me in the middle to refuse hate and blanket judgment, this one is for you, too.”
Following his acceptance speech, Perry gave a little more insight into what led him to share that powerful message. “Where we are in the country, in the world, everybody’s grabbed a corner and a color, and they’re all—nobody wants to come to the middle to have a conversation,” Perry explained in the press room immediately after accepting his award. “Everybody’s polarized, and it’s in the middle where things change. So I’m hoping that inspires people to meet us in the middle so that we can get back to some semblance of normal. As this pandemic is over, we can all get to a place where we’re showing love and kindness to each other again.”
Scroll down to watch Tyler Perry's moving acceptance speech in full.